Back-to-school season is here, and a return to classrooms can often mean a return to an environment filled with germs that your child can come in contact with and bring home. And we all know, the bad germs can leave our littles and not-so-little ones under the weather — and parents, too. The return to school is the beginning of the cold and flu season, but COVID-19 also seems to be here to stay, and other health concerns are top of mind for parents this new year, including cases of polio and the spread of monkeypox, both we’re still learning about. But this time of year doesn’t have to leave parents bracing for runny noses and calling out sick to tend to a child with a cold. If you take precautions, namely disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home and helping your kid get a good night’s rest and eat well, your family can do a better job of keeping germs at bay.
We spoke with Eva Beaulieu, MD, a board-certified internal medicine hospitalist and Clorox spokesperson about such concerns, as the brand recently did a study and a survey that identified 69% of parents are concerned about their kids bringing germs home from school, and that kids’ school clothes were among the germiest at 28 times germier than a toilet seat. She’s sharing advice on how to keep the whole family as healthy as possible as children go back to a mask-free way of learning from start to finish this school year.
How can we keep our children as healthy as possible as they return to school?
My first recommendation would be to follow the CDC guidelines for all viruses and illness that will be a concern this fall. Guidance is changing as we learn more, so checking www.cdc.gov regularly is a good practice. It may sound cliché, but your best defense is a strong immune system! Practice healthy habits such as eating a nutrient-dense diet with fruits and vegetables and prioritize consistent and fun exercise and a great night’s sleep – about eight to 12 hours a night, depending on child’s age! Parents should also encourage their kids to wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer to help reduce the spread of germs and illness. Finally, if anyone in your family isn’t feeling well or develops symptoms consistent with these illnesses, stay home from work and school and disinfect contaminated surfaces.
What would you recommend regarding ways to keep outside germs from coming inside one’s home as they return from work and their kids return from school?
People often forget how many germs can hitch a ride home with their kids from school on more than just their hands. A recent study from Clorox where participants swabbed a variety of high-touch surfaces and school supplies, revealed that backpacks are 31 times germier than the average cellphone and that kids’ school clothes are 28 times germier than a toilet seat! Knowing this, preparation is key. I try to get my children in the habit of leaving their backpacks in the mudroom and then heading straight to the bathroom to wash their hands when they get home from school. This is the perfect time to break out my secret weapon, Clorox Disinfecting Mist, to spray soft surfaces like my kids’ backpacks and help sanitize against lingering germs.
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What kind of cleaning and disinfection regimens would you recommend to parents?
Proper cleaning and disinfecting routines start with healthy habits. I recommend teaching your kids the importance of prioritizing their health and helping to protect themselves and their loved ones from illness-causing germs by covering their mouths when coughing and washing their hands often, especially after returning home from school. To help keep your home clean and help prevent the spread of germs, I also recommend regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces like door handles, light switches, counters, remotes, etc., that your kids gravitate towards after school. Clorox Disinfecting Mist and Clorox Disinfecting Wipes are my go-tos as they are quick, easy and effective.
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What items should we send kids back to school with to prevent the spread of germs?
Back-to-school shopping lists seem to grow each year, but it’s important to add cleaning and disinfecting products to the top because back-to-school season is also the start of cold and flu season. I recommend buying travel-sized hand sanitizer to put in kids backpacks to use when they’re unable to wash their hands. A mom hack of mine is to purchase some with fun scents and packaging that can clip onto their backpacks to encourage use throughout the day. Teachers can always use extra supplies as well. I always purchase a few extra Clorox Disinfecting Wipes cannisters for my kids to bring to their teachers at the start of each school year.
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What should college students who live with others pack or buy to keep from getting sick?
Germs can circulate very quickly in college dorms and apartments, too! Be sure to wipe down high-touch surfaces in shared living and learning spaces, like door handles, light switches, remotes and desks with Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to kill 99.9% of germs, including cold and flu viruses. Something you may be shocked to know is that, according to a recent survey from Clorox, the couch is among the dirtiest items in the average home – equally as germy as a dog’s tennis ball. Next time you invite friends over for a movie night (or before mom comes to visit), I recommend sanitizing your couch with Clorox Disinfecting Mist to help get rid of lingering germs and leave your space smelling fresh and clean.